daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, December 23, 2011
Mal. 3:1-4, 4:5-6, Ps. 24, Luke 1:57-66

"Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me" (Mal. 3:1).

Jesus identified this messenger with John the Baptist, saying about John, "Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee'" (Matt. 11:9-10). Malachi also says that the Lord "will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes" (Mal. 4:5). And Jesus says that this messenger who will prepare the way of the Lord is both John the Baptist and Elijah. That is, John is the precursor of the Lord who will prepare his way by fulfilling the role of Elijah, who was to return before the day of the Lord. Jesus said, "All the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come" (Matt. 11:13-14).

The role of this messenger will be to prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will purge it "like a refiner's fire and like a fuller's soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver" (Mal. 3:2-3). It will be a time of purification and cleansing, to purge and purify the people of their sins and worldliness, to present it pure and worthy for the coming of the Lord.

This purification will be difficult, for the people has gone astray from the correct way. Therefore Malachi asks, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?" (Mal. 3:2). Many will not be able to endure his coming, for their ways are crooked and rough. But he will come like a voice crying in the desert, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," make straight his paths" (Isa. 40:3 KJV). God will renew the face of the earth and call his people to repentance. He will come to rectify all things and forgive all our sins. He wants to renew the earth and make all things new (Rev. 21:5), so that "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa. 40:4-5 KJV). And John, when he came, preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). He preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins so that the people would be prepared for the coming of the Lord.

We hear this message now, but who can endure it? So many have gone astray from the true path to the point that many are not even aware that they have gone astray. They accept all that comes to them from the world without a critical sense, without discernment, without evaluation, without judgment; and the result is that they defile and pollute their minds and hearts through their contact with the worldliness of the world. They accept, as though it were normal, all that the world offers as entertainment, with the result that they themselves become worldly in their way of thinking and living.

John the Baptist came to reform all this and call us anew to repentance, to rededicate our life to God alone with all our heart, without any division of heart. We should, then, follow John in the desert, preparing with him the way of the Lord, to be ready and prepared when he comes.


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